Big guns avoid lower league banana skins
FORMER Matildas coach Alen Stajcic has enjoyed a winning start to the season with Central Coast Mariners easing to a 2-0 victory over Maitland Magpies in FFA Cup Round of 32 action.
Two early goals inside three minutes from veteran Michael McGlinchey set the Mariners on their way in a match that rarely got out of second gear.
The Mariners boast a dreadful record in the FFA Cup - they are the only A-League club to lose twice to lower league opposition - but an upset was never on the cards after McGlinchey opened the scoring on eight minutes.
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It was Stajcic's first match as fulltime coach, having assumed the role on an interim basis late last season following his contentious dismissal as national women's team boss.
While his charges offered a strong opening showing, it was a tougher night at the office for Erick Mombaerts whose Melbourne City side were pushed all the way before prevailing 3-1 against Adelaide's Campbelltown City.
City's new French coach saw his side twice take the lead in the opening half, firstly through a classy close-range Jamie MacLaren finish before new signing Craig Noone fired home spectacularly from long-range.
But big-spending City found themselves on the back foot for much of the second half thanks to a strong outing from the National Premier League champions, only for MacLaren to nab some insurance in injury time.
Former National Soccer League powerhouse Marconi Stallions had little trouble overpowering South Hobart 3-0 at Bellerive Oval.
A double before half-time from former Newcastle Jets' striker Marco Jesic had Marconi on their way before substitute Damian Tsekenis iced the cake in the dying moments.
There was to be no fairytale for Tigers FC in Canberra with the Cooma-based side - one of the smallest to ever participate in the competition - suffering a 2-0 defeat against Hume City.
The Melburnians collected a routine victory with first-half goals from Mark Ochieng and Ben Bowler.
Sydney United dramatically triumphed 5-3 over St George in a nostalgia-tinged match-up between two former NSL giants at Illinden Sports Centre.
St George somehow came back from two goals down early in the second half to draw level in a match quirkily controlled by visiting English Premier League referee Simon Hooper.
Sydney United again went ahead in added time before the Saints conjured a 96th- minute equaliser from Musashi Kokubo to send the match into extra time.
Third-tier St George, now coached by one of their former Sydney United and Socceroo stars Wally Savor, had no answer as the visitors surged clear.